- Thu, 2011-06-02 12:48
Co-founded in 1982 by Peter Gabriel, each year WOMAD festival draws artists from around the world to celebrate many musical styles, moods and cultural identities in the form of music, art, dance, workshops, talks, crafts, food and more. Set in the beautiful grounds of Charlton Park, Wiltshire, the festival remains a colourful highlight on the I Like Music festival calender, serving to remind us that a wealth of beautiful, experiemntal, traditional and inspiring music can be found in all corners of the globe.
Marking somewhat of an I Like Music tradition, we caught up with festival programmer Paula Henderson for the third year running to chat about what's in store for 2011.
"I Like Music because… it just means everything to me." Paula Henderson, WOMAD Festival Programmer
ILM: We're very excited about WOMAD 2011! Firstly, we wanted to know a little more about the competition to win a spot on the Charlie Gillet stage this year, where did the idea come from?
Paula: The competition was an idea from Peter Gabriel, the founder of Real World and the festival. He was really very enthusiastic to have an open call for the festival, to give unsigned bands or any kind of group a chance to play and for them not to have to go through the official channels - sending in a demo and their MySpace and all that, but actually go through our Facebook page. Then, the public can decide! I make enough of the decisions and work with a team of people, but other people may want to hear something completely different! It’s a great opportunity for the public to have their say and hear what they want to hear.
ILM: Will you be voting?
Paula: I won’t be voting! Haha! But I will be looking at the Facebook page. Even if you don’t win, if we see a new band that we’ve not seen before, I might think “well actually, they’d be great anyway, for next year perhaps...
ILM: And the prize is...
Paula: The winners get to play on the Charlie Gillet stage at the festival this year with free entry to the festival for weekend! So they’ll come and play their 45 minutes and then they can enjoy the festival!
ILM: Who are you looking forward to this year?
Paula: I’m really excited about Gogol Bordello. I’ve been a fan of his for years, I’ve been trying to book him for WOMAD for about three or four years now. I can’t wait to see him! Also, the group Afrocubism from Cuba and Mali. They’re an amazing collaboration that includes Toumani Diabaté, I think that will be such a special show to watch. Then there’s the UK talent. We’ve got I Am Kloot who were nominated last year for a Mercury and they're an amazing group to include within this festival which includes so many different kinds of music. I think that’s what makes it exciting. You can see kind of mainstream music alongside music from Mali, Korea, India, Romania, everything you could possibly want...!
ILM: Artists come from across the globe just to play WOMAD. Who is making the longest trip this year?
Paula: Well, that for sure would be Pacific Curls who are coming from New Zealand, about as far away as possible! It’s wonderful that they’re coming. I had the opportunity to see them last year at the New Zealand WOMAD.
ILM: Wow! The New Zealand WOMAD must be fantastic!
Paula: It is! That’s what’s great about working as the programmer for the event! We do events around the world and I get the opportunity to go to our other festivals. I see some really great talents and invite them over to play in the UK and Pacific Curls are a lovely group! It’s people like that that you go away remembering.
ILM: There are more festivals in the UK than ever before, what sets WOMAD apart?
Paula: We've stayed original from when we first started in 1982. We’ve always tried to find new music, artists, dance and art that you may not have the opportunity to see anywhere else. You can go into the big festivals and be part of that and they’re great, but with WOMAD, to have music from all around the world on your doorstep for three days – it’s almost an impossible task really! They’re all flying in from around the world! To have them in a corner of Wiltshire for three days is just magical. They are fantastic groups and stars in their own right, in their own country. Although you may not have heard of them, they are still of the highest quality so you know you’re going to have a great time. The other thing is, you can bring your family. You know your children will have a wonderful time, there’s lots of things for people to do and there’s also great shopping, wonderful food, you can camp for the whole weekend, it’s just a really great experience!
ILM: Does the festival appeal to all ages? There's a perception that world music is for a slightly older audience...
Paula: I think it can appeal to all ages. We have our wonderful big red tent which focuses a little more on the club side of things. Now younger audiences have access to a much wider range of music than I did even a few years back, hopefully their tastes have broadened. WOMAD is all about people being willing to have a listen and give things a go. At the end of the day, come, have a good time and then come on back! We will carry on bringing you great quality music from around the world.